Our weekly round up of film news and trailer reviews featuring a batman and a superman, some animated magic and all the best documentaries of the year. It’s The Showreel…
Oscar Documentary Shortlist
With the 88th Academy Awards just around the corner, the short-list for the Best Documentary Award has been released, with an initial 124 films whittled down to 15 before the final 5 are chosen for nominations. This list of 15 films contains some very strong films and picking 5 will not be the easiest. Documentary film is a passion of mine, and every year I pour over this shortlist and try and source any of the films I haven’t seen. This years list is as follows:
Amy – The story of Amy Winehouse in her own words, featuring unseen archival footage and unheard tracks.
Best of Enemies – A documentary on the series of televised debates in 1968 between the liberal Gore Vidal and the conservative William F. Buckley Jr. Watch the trailer here.
Cartel Land – A physician in Michoacán, Mexico leads a citizen uprising against the drug cartel that has wreaked havoc on the region for years. Across the U.S. border, a veteran heads a paramilitary group working to prevent Mexico’s drug wars from entering U.S. territory.Watch the trailer here
Going Clear: Scientology and the Prison of Belief – An in-depth look at the inner-workings of the Church of Scientology.
Going Clear was one of my favourites this year. In fact Alex Gibney could be on his way to winning another Best Doc Oscar with this stunning investigative piece. Watch the trailer here.
He Named Me Malala – A look at the events leading up to the Taliban’s attack on Pakistani schoolgirl, Malala Yousafzai, for speaking out on girls’ education followed by the aftermath, including her speech to the United Nations.
Davis Gugenheim is surely going to get a nomination for this strong and important film. Watch the trailer here.
Heart of a Dog – An impressionistic and musical meditation on a pets death with prelude by the artist Laurie Anderson, who enjoyed a very deep relationship with her dog, with following soundtrack. Watch the trailer here.
The Hunting Ground – An exposé of rape crimes on U.S. college campuses, their institutional cover-ups, and the devastating toll they take on students and their families. Watch the trailer here.
Listen to Me Marlon – A documentary that utilizes hundreds of hours of audio that Marlon Brando recorded over the course of his life to tell the screen legend’s story. Watch the trailer here.
The Look of Silence – A family that survives the genocide in Indonesia confronts the men who killed one of their brothers.
The follow-up and companion piece to Joshua Oppenheimer’s disturbing and brilliantly original Oscar nominated 2012 documentary The Act of Killing. Watch the trailer here.
Meru – Three elite climbers struggle to find their way through obsession and loss as they attempt to climb Mount Meru, one of the most coveted prizes in the high stakes game of Himalayan big wall climbing. Watch the trailer here.
3 1/2 Minutes, 10 Bullets – Black Friday, the day after Thanksgiving November 2012, four boys in a red SUV pull into a gas station after spending time at the mall buying sneakers and talking to girls. With music blaring, one boy exits the car and enters the store, a quick stop for a soda and a pack of gum. A man and a woman pull up next to the boys in the station, making a stop for a bottle of wine. The woman enters the store and an argument breaks out when the driver of the second car asks the boys to turn the music down. 3 1/2 minutes and ten bullets later, one of the boys is dead. 3 1/2 MINUTES dissects the aftermath of this fatal encounter. Watch the trailer here.
We Come as Friends – As war-ravaged South Sudan claims independence from North Sudan and its brutal President, Omar al-Bashir, a tiny, homemade prop plane wings in from France. It is piloted by eagle-eyed documentarian Hubert Sauper, who is mining for stories in a land trapped in the past but careening toward an apocalyptic future. Watch the trailer here.
What Happened, Miss Simone? – A documentary about the life and legend Nina Simone, an American singer, pianist, and civil rights activist labeled the “High Priestess of Soul.” Watch the trailer here.
Where to Invade Next – To learn what the USA can gain from other nations, Michael Moore playfully “invades” them to see what they have to offer. Watch the trailer here.
Winter on Fire: Ukraine’s Fight for Freedom – A documentary on the unrest in Ukraine during 2013 and 2014, as student demonstrations supporting European integration grew into a violent revolution calling for the resignation of President Viktor F. Yanukovich. Watch the trailer here.
It’s interesting to see two Netflix produced documentaries on the list as the online streaming company continues it’s meteoric rise through 2015.
Batman Vs. Superman: Dawn of Justice
Plot: Fearing the actions of a god-like Super Hero left unchecked, Gotham City’s own formidable, forceful vigilante takes on Metropolis’ most revered, modern-day savior, while the world wrestles with what sort of hero it really needs. And with Batman and Superman at war with one another, a new threat quickly arises, putting mankind in greater danger than it’s ever known before.
[iframe id=”https://embed.theguardian.com/embed/video/film/video/2015/dec/03/batman-v-superman-watch-the-new-trailer-for-zack-snyders-superhero-smackdown-video” align=”center” autoplay=”no” maxwidth=”750"]
Well, here we are with the second trailer of one of 2016’s most anticipated films Batman Vs. Superman: Dawn of Justice. And, well, it kinda sucks. While the first trailer hinted at a dark brooding view of DC Comic’s most famous twosome, it seems the second trailer has thrown all that mood and “seriousness” out the window and replaced it with bad jokes and silly set-ups. I cant claim to be a superhero fan the same way our resident supermovie correspondent Paddy O’Leary can, but I can see how many DC fans are utterly disappointed with this trailer. To quote Paddy on viewing this trailer:
I am now very disheartened.
Lex Luther, played by Jesse Eisenberg, is perhaps the most disappointing character with his useless charm and pointedly obvious motives over bearing. As if the bad guy was not good enough we then have the big reveal of Doomsday – a CGI overload that is a mix between Lord of the Rings and Resident Evil and lacking anything other than size and anger. We are far from Batman’s finest foes here. While DC fans may be upset there still is Suicide Squad to hold out hope for. Regardless of the bad publicity this trailer has met, there is no doubting that Batman Vs. Superman will be a box office hit, but questions may be asked of director Zach Snyder if it is not a fan favourite.
Plot: A man crippled by the mundanity of his life experiences something out of the ordinary.
[y[youtube id=”DT6QJaS2a-U” align=”center” autoplay=”no” maxwidth=”750"]p>
Charlie Kaufman is one of those people who you just wish you were even remotely as clever as. His collection of films, both as writer and/or director, have been staggeringly inventive, original and thought provoking whilst also maintaining a sharp edge and comedic sway. Granted that all of his films describe a forlorn central male character who is saved by a quirky female, the originality of there construction produces some of the most striking films of the past 15 years. Adaptation is probably the finest written film about the creative process ever made and Kaufman’s directorial debut, the fantastic Synecdoche, New York, showed that he is not just a writer, but a bone fide film maker.
Amazingly with this reputation, Kaufman essentially had to crowd-fund the majority of the funding for the stop-motion Anomalisa, which has been in production since 2012. The film premièred at this years Telluride Film Festival to a critical wave of positivity and went on to win the Grand Jury Prize at the Venice Film Festival. The critics have been raving about this film stating that the trailer does not reflect the actual tone and qualities of the film which is so much more. It currently holds a 100% rating on Rotten Tomatoes and has established itself as a leading Oscar contender taking on the likes of Pixar for the Best Animated Film. Anomalisa is out in January.
All the Best Films on TV This Week
Crash (2004) – RTE 2 – Friday 4th 11.45pm
Los Angeles citizens with vastly separate lives collide in interweaving stories of race, loss and redemption.
Paul Haggis won many plaudits and even a few Oscars for this race relations story entwining the lives of a number of L.A. residents. It would be interesting to watch this now in the wake of huge discontent regarding immigration and in the aftermath of the race riots across America this year.
Step Brothers (2008) – TV3 – Saturday 5th 9.30pm
Two aimless middle-aged losers still living at home are forced against their will to become room-mates when their parents marry.
Step Brothers, on initial release was not a huge hit in the same way Zoolander or Anchorman was, but it has become somewhat of a cult classic over the years. In fact our resident Podcast engineer Conor Wilkins claimed this is his favourite film OF ALL TIME. There are so many classic lines(“Why are you sweating?” “I was watching Cops” is my personal favourite), and mixed with some of the understated humour Step Brothers is actually also quite charming.
’71 (2014) – Film 4 – Sunday 6th 9.00pm
In 1971, a young and disorientated British soldier is accidentally abandoned by his unit following a riot on the deadly streets of Belfast.
I still haven’t seen ’71 but it has been on my radar for a while after rave reviews about the Belfast set drama. Star Jack O’Connell has become an extraordinary actor and is destined for great things. His performance in Starred Up was disturbingly amazing and has spring boarded him to the attention of Hollywood.
Mud (2012) – Film 4 – Monday 7th 10.50pm
Two young boys encounter a fugitive and form a pact to help him evade the vigilantes that are on his trail and to reunite him with his true love.
Jeff Nichols follow up to the hugely impressive and utterly deranged Take Shelter stars Matthew McConnaughey in fantastic form as the evasive fugitive Mud in a subtle and remarkable film about youth and love. Nichols has become a noteworthy film maker and his upcoming film Midnight Special looks like it will continue his rich vein of form. Mud also stars Michael Shannon, a regular Nichols contributor, and Reese Witherspoon.
Field of Dreams (1989) – Film 4 – Tuesday 8th 6,55pm
An Iowa corn farmer, hearing voices, interprets them as a command to build a baseball diamond in his fields; he does, and the Chicago White Sox come.
Yeah it’s corny (excuse the pun) but it is an enjoyable affair as Kevin Costner decides to put his heart before his head and build a baseball pitch for some ghosts at the expense of putting food on the table for his wife and child. James Earl Jones and Ray Liotta also star in what is a sentimental journey but full of wonder and good performances.
Featured Image credit: moviepilot.com